Speaker: On 17 August, BG (PA) Michael Gould, the Deputy Adjutant General for Veterans Affairs in the Commonwealth, spoke to the council. He explained that most states have a Secretary of Veterans Affairs but in this state the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs has the responsibility. He is one of three deputies and serves at the pleasure of the Governor, though he sees his responsibility is in serving first the veterans.
His Office of Veterans Affairs is primarily consumed with the operation of six state veterans homes, requiring some 1800 employees. Its other functional responsibilities, in comparison, are relatively small. For example, the Office of Veterans Affairs has three small field offices of veterans service officers located in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Ft. Indiantown Gap which file VA claims on behalf of veterans and work in confederation with the County Directors of Veterans Affairs.
This does not mean he is not busy. He has an open door policy for any veteran and has traveled approximately 63,000 miles on veterans business in the last year.
General Gould pointed out that his office manages six benefits programs, such as a paralyzed veteran pension and an emergency assistance fund, to the tune of $1 million but these touch only 1 to 2 per cent of the state’s veterans and as constituted are mostly redundant, considering the federal programs available for the same purposes.
He believes changes are necessary in his office (more…)